I am not a parent of a ADHD child, but as a teacher I have spent 180 days for 42 years – 31 in a traditional high school and the last 8 years in an all day, one teacher, one room classroom with the same students all day all school year working with them while they do online classes where I am the teacher of their courses, I have learned to deal with crisis behavior immediately by containing the behavior, redirecting the behavior, and helping the student learn to control the behavior.
Here are two methods I have found effective.
When a student has an emotional storm and starts screaming, I have used this procedure. I smile and nod and wait for a break and then say, “I am sorry you feel that way, but I do not feel that way. You are a challenge, but I am glad to take on that challenge and glad to have you as my student.” Off the student would go again. Again, I smile and nod and wait for a break and then say, “I am sorry you feel that way, but I do not feel that way. You are a challenge, but I am glad to take on that challenge and glad to have you as my student.” I use the same behavior and the same words over and over until the student stops. Remember Eric Berne’s “Games People Play” and transactional analysis. Everyone has a Parent, Adult and Child inside. For two people to communicate Adult to Adult is best. When a person is acting as a Child, the Adult role will not work. You can try the Parent role, but too often it does not work. Never, and I mean never, resort to being a Child. Your Child is better at acting as a Child, and wins by bringing you to the Child level, and your child is reinforced by winning and will continue with this behavior. While in an emotional storm, if my student said, “You are not not listening to me; you are not reacting to my words.” I would smile and respond, “I am listening to you words, and I am listening to your loving heart. I am responding to your loving heart and not your words.“ Remember: no audience; no performance.
Help your child learn to extinguish certain behaviors. Here is how I helped a student extinguish a behavior that had caused disruption at school and at home. The student would make a guttural grunting sound over and over. I asked the student in an Adult to Adult way to stop the behavior. The student explained that he could not because he was simply clearing his throat. So I asked him to go outside and sit on a bench with me. He continued to make the sound so each time he made the sound I said, “You are choosing to make that sound. That is your choice.” I repeated this exact statement over and over after each sound. The student argued that he did not have a choice, and that he had to make that sound. I continued to repeat that exact statement after each sound. The student became more upset as I repeated the statement after each sound. Finally, the student said, “How long do we have to sit out here?” I took out my phone set the timer for five minutes and said, “When you can go five minutes without making that sound once, we can go back in.” I started the timer. I only had to restart the timer twice, and the behavior was stopped. I have only had to show my phone to the student once to stop the behavior in the classroom. Now, what is going on? Albert Ellis’ rational emotive behavior therapy argues that events (external and/or internal stressors) do not cause a response (internal and/or external). Events trigger a Belief System which is learned, and the Belief System triggers the Response. The learned self-defeating belief system must be identified, challenged and replaced with a healthier one that will promote emotional well-being and goal achievement. See http://albertellis.org/. So repeating the same words over and over such as, “You are choosing to make that sound. That is your choice.” Help the student learn to substitute a new belief system in place of the old belief system that triggered the guttural grunting sound response.
Helping a student learn to extinguish a behavior by learning a new belief system is like helping a student learn to talk, to walk and other complex behaviors. Take baby steps where the student can achieve success. Let them savor the success and slowly build on that success. Let them take baby steps.